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Urban Tumbleweed

Notes from a Tanka Diary

by Harryette R. Mullen

Paperback, 127, Farrar Straus & Giroux, List Price: $15 |


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Urban Tumbleweed
Notes from a Tanka Diary
Harryette R. Mullen

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Book Summary

Urban Tumbleweed is an exploration of spaces representing a convergence between the city and the natural world, inspired by the author's daily walking practice. It adapts the traditional Japanese tanka form to consider environmental transitions and humanity's role in nature.

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Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: Urban Tumbleweed: Notes From A Tanka Diary

The morning news landed in the driveway, folded,
rolled, and rubber-banded, wrapped in plastic
for protection from the morning dews.

Awakened too early on Saturday morning
by the song of a mockingbird
imitating my clock-radio alarm.

Paparazzi snap snoozing celebrities
in stretch limos cruising down Hollywood
Boulevard past anorexic palm trees.

Why should I care about my neighbor's
riotous dandelions? Does he concern himself
with my slovenly jacaranda?

Walking along the green path with buds
in my ears, too engrossed in the morning news
to listen to the stillness of the garden.

If you must keep a dog in the city, you've got to go
out for walks. If you must stop
at my house, please pick up your pooch's poop.

My visitor from Nebraska buys
a sack of assorted seashells at a souvenir shop,
then scatters them along the beach.

All water is recycled — though "toilet to tap"
was an unfortunate slogan for
the municipal water-treatment plant.

Los Angeles isn't always this smoggy, you know.
There are days the sky is so clear
you can see the HOLLYWOOD sign from here.

Excerpted from Urban Tumbleweed: Notes from a Tanka Diary by Harryette Mullen. Used by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved.